The recent news flash that the Boston bombers were from Chechnya came as a surprise to a public primed — in some cases salivating for — brown Muslim jihadists. It’s fascinating to watch this new spatialization of terror, race, and national identity swerve and reconstitute itself in order to now account for these two men. Some news reports describe these men as being from Central Asia. This description interests me.
What are the outer limits for “Asia”? If Chechnya is now at its center and Japan at its Far East, does that not make Europe western Asia? The myth of continents rears its head.
By describing their Central Asian origins, these reports ensnare these men in geopolitical discourses of otherness. Can one be Muslim and “white”? I doubt it.